Notes: Astacio claimed by Rangers
Righty out of Minor League options; Jimerson outrighted
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Houston Astros erased two more names from their roster on Monday when they outrighted outfielder Charlton Jimerson to Double-A Corpus Christi and bid farewell to right-hander Ezequiel Astacio, who was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
Astacio, the only pitcher remaining from the three-player acquisition that sent Billy Wagner to the Phillies in 2003, leaves the Astros after several unsuccessful attempts to establish himself on Houston's pitching staff. The 27-year-old went 5-6 with a 6.02 ERA over 28 big-league games, including 14 starts, from 2005-06.
Astacio began Spring Training with no chance to make the starting rotation and was never mentioned among the five hopefuls who are currently battling for the final two spots. Because he's out of options, Astacio will have to be kept at the big-league level by the Rangers. In that respect, Monday's transaction was good news.
"I know there was a lot of competition with a lot of pitchers here," Astacio said as he left the Astros' clubhouse late Monday afternoon. "I know that I wasn't going to compete for a spot here.
"I'm happy that I got picked so quick and that I'll be at the Major League level."
Perhaps knowing that the scouts were watching, Astacio had a good spring showing. Over seven relief appearances, he allowed two runs over eight innings, posting a 2.25 ERA.
"Pitching is always at a premium," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "He's got a good arm. He had a real good spring. It's just that, based upon who else we have here, he was not going to make our club. I'm glad for him. He has an opportunity to hopefully stick with the Rangers at the big-league level."
Jimerson also comes off the 40-man roster. Headed for the Minor Leagues for the seventh year in a row, the 27-year-old outfielder wasn't in a chatty mood after emerging from manager Phil Garner's office.
"I don't have anything to say," he said.
The Astros now have three spots open on their 40-man roster, which gives the club room to add non-roster players, if necessary. Rick White and Brian Moehler, both of whom signed Minor League deals, are still in the running for a bullpen and rotation spot, respectively.
White on the mend: White is a favorite to make the club out of Spring Training after not allowing a run in 11 innings pitched this spring. But the right-hander had to deal with a mild case of the injury bug after tweaking his right groin during Thursday's game with the Nationals.
White felt the strain on his second to last pitch. He was scheduled to throw again on Sunday but was scratched in an effort give the groin more time to heal.
The right-hander threw off the mound for approximately 10 minutes on Monday morning.
"There's no pain or anything," he said. "I just felt something moving. I don't know if it's because of this wrap I've got on or what, but it all went well."
White will pitch in a Minor League game in Kissimmee on Wednesday and is slated to work during the Astros-Royals game on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
Leadoff luncheon: The majority of players on the Astros roster will attend the Astros in Action Foundation Leadoff Luncheon on April 4, but two players in particular were selected to be the featured speakers.
Considering Jeff Bagwell will be honored at the luncheon, it's no surprise that Brad Ausmus and Craig Biggio will address the crowd, since they played with the now-retired first baseman the longest.
Ausmus brought the house down with a hilarious acceptance speech during the annual baseball dinner in February. It's safe to assume he'll have a few fun things to say about his close friend this time, too.
"I don't know what I'm going to say yet," Ausmus said.
Platoon? Garner isn't tipping his hand as to who he's leaning toward starting in right field on Opening Day, but he hasn't ruled out platooning Jason Lane and Luke Scott during the season.
"I don't know that it would be a straight platoon, but it is a way to get whomever in the game," Garner said. "If you go with a platoon, you see more right-handers than you do left-handers, which means Scott could get more playing time, and it may work out that way. I might also go with whoever is swinging the bat well and stay with him."
Odds and ends: When Garner filled out his lineup card on Monday morning, he jokingly slotted starting pitcher Woody Williams to hit eighth, with Ausmus hitting ninth. "Brad has said he will quit before he lets Woody hit ahead of him," Garner said. Fernando Nieve is still slated to start the Astros game in Lakeland on Thursday. Matt Albers may also pitch in that game. The rest of the squad will be in its way to Round Rock, where the Astros and the Express, their Triple-A affiliate, will play a night game.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.